DALLAS (AP) — The girlfriend of a man arrested in Dallas Tuesday in a shooting that wounded three women in a Koreatown hair salon told police he had been admitted to health facilities because he was having delusions about Asian Americans, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Jeremy Theron Smith, 37, faces three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to jail records.
“This arrest is a result of the hard work, sacrifice, community support, to bring a suspect to justice, and to ultimately bring peace to this community, who rightfully so, have been nervous, frustrated and angry since this crime has occurred,” Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Police Sr. Cpl. Soo Nam also addressed the reporters, delivering a statement on the arrest in Korean. Garcia said the department has 10 officers who speak Korean.
The FBI said Tuesday that it has opened a federal hate crime investigation along with federal prosecutors in Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division.
Smith, who is Black, is jailed and no bond has been set. Jail records do not list an attorney for him.
According to the affidavit, Smith’s girlfriend told authorities that whenever Smith is around an Asian American, “he begins having delusions that the Asian mob is after him or attempting to harm him.”
She told detectives he had been having delusions about Asian Americans ever since being involved in a car crash about two years ago with a man of Asian descent. She said he was also fired for “verbally attacking” his boss, who was of Asian descent.
Garcia has said the shooting last Wednesday at Hair World Salon has been connected to two previous shootings at businesses run by Asian Americans.
Dallas FBI spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said agents are working with city police “to thoroughly investigate this incident” but that she couldn’t provide further information because the probe is ongoing.
The shooting in Dallas occurred a few days before a white gunman killed 10 Black people Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a gunman who authorities said was motivated by political hatred for Taiwan killed one person and wounded five Sunday at a southern California church where mostly elderly Taiwanese parishioners had gathered.
Authorities in Dallas have said a man dressed all in black opened fire at the salon, then drove off from the shopping center in a maroon minivan. Garcia said investigators found that a similar vehicle had been reported as involved in two other recent shootings. Someone opened fire in an April 2 drive-by near the salon and Garcia said the minivan was also linked to a May 10 shooting about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of there. No one was injured in either of those shootings.
The three women who were shot at the salon Wednesday were taken to a hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
Garcia said the suspect fired 13 shots inside the salon. Garcia said one woman was injured in her arm, one in her foot and another in her back. He said four others at the salon weren’t injured.
One of the women injured in the shooting spoke Monday night at a community meeting with police. Her arm in a sling, she said in Korean that she was worried about how she would continue to make a living.
“There are lives that have changed forever because of this,” Garcia said Tuesday.
The salon is in the heart of Koreatown, which is in a part of the city that was transformed in the 1980s from an industrial area to a thriving district with shopping, dining, markets, medical offices and salons.
Anti-Asian violence has risen sharply in recent years. Last year, six women of Asian descent were among the eight killed in a shooting at massage businesses in and near Atlanta, heightening anger and fear among Asian Americans.